Scientists Study Why Big Dogs Die Younger Than Small Dogs

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Big dogs tend to die earlier than small dogs. Now researchers are finding out why and what it could mean for other species, including humans, according to LiveScience.

While larger species live longer on average than smaller species - elephants live to about 70 years while mice live only about 4 years, for example - smaller animals within species tend to outlive their larger counterparts.

Because dogs are a single species that has been bred by humans over the centuries into countless breeds of wildly different sizes and shapes, researchers have been able to study the breeds to determine how size affects life expectancy. They have observed that larger dogs simply age faster than their smaller cousins. "Their lives seem to unwind in fast motion," said Cornelia Kraus, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Gottingen in Germany.

The new research shows that in dogs, about one month of life expectancy is lost for every 4.4 pounds a dog weighs. A 155-lb Great Dane has a life expectancy of about 7 years, while a 9-lb Poodle can live up to about 14 years.

In addition to faster aging, bigger dogs also seem more susceptible to developing cancer than small dogs. This may correlate with size, because cancer is a disease of cell growth.

Researchers hope the new findings will lead to greater insight into the biological links between growth and mortality in other mammals.


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